In a madcap final-lap ending that saw numerous cars spinning and crashing, a resilient Kurt Busch drove his heavily damaged Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet -- that was shooting out flames -- to an eighth-place finish in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
The finish was the second straight eighth-place result for Busch, giving Furniture Row Racing its best back-to-back finishes in the team’s history.
Busch, who was competing in his fifth race with Furniture Row Racing, found himself right in the middle of a multicar wreck on the final lap of the green-white-checkered overtime finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
Though his No. 78 Chevrolet took a severe hit by Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car and then proceeded to tag the concrete wall, Busch somehow managed to get to the finish line.
Busch left his mangled car on the track and was driven by the track’s ambulance to the infield medical care center where he was checked out and released.
“That was a wild ending, not sure at the time what was happening,” Busch said as he was walking back to the team’s transporter. “I just stayed on the gas to get to the finish line. Everything was going smoothly and it was looking like a sixth-place finish for the Furniture Row/Farm American car, but all of a sudden all heck broke loose.
“I saw the door of Biffle’s car come across my left front, and from there I went on to smack the wall. I kept on going and was able to nudge (Paul) Menard at the finish line for eighth.”
While Busch was happy to escape injuries in the final-lap melee, he was not overly happy with the final result. He knew he had a car that could challenge for the win, but while running in fourth place a pit road miscue (loose lug nut) on Lap 132 of 319 forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop under green. The incident sent him back to 25th place and one lap down.
“We definitely had a car that was capable of winning, but you can’t afford those kinds of mistakes,” said Busch, who had 64 green-flag passes. “However, we did battle back to notch our second straight top-10.”
Busch’s crew chief Todd Berrier echoed the same mixed feelings.
“Kurt had a good shot at winning today, but that one mistake on pit road was costly,” Berrier explained as he watched the No. 78 car being hauled to the transporter by a tow truck. “But we fought back and the credit goes to Kurt for another incredible driving performance. He can sure wheel a race car.”
Busch qualified sixth and ran up front for a good portion of the race. He was listed as fourth on Lap 50, fifth on Lap 100 and fourth on Lap 125.
“We keep on making progress,” Busch said. “I like everything I see about this Furniture Row team. We need to close out the season next week with another strong performance.”
The race winner was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Busch, Paul Menard and Mark Martin.
The race had 11 lead changes among seven drivers, eight cautions for 38 laps and a red flag for nearly 15 minutes.
The next Sprint Cup Series race will be the season finale – Sunday, Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.